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Five Ravens who need to step up after the bye

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Five Ravens who need to step up after the bye

The Ravens never expected to be 2-6 at the bye. Will they fare better, or worse, in the second half of the season, now that wide receiver Steve Smith (torn Achilles) has been lost for the year? Here are five Ravens who have underperformed in the first half of the season who need to step up:

- Kyle Arrington, CB

The Ravens hoped they were getting a consistent nickel corner when they signed Arrington as a free agent. Instead, Arrington has struggled at times sticking with receivers and assignments in traffic. Shareece Wright, who was not signed until last month, has already supplanted Arrington as the third corner behind Jimmy Smith and Lardarius Webb. The Ravens are still thin at cornerback, so it would help their secondary if Arrington stepped up his play.

- Marlon Brown, WR

Hard to believe Brown had seven touchdowns as a rookie in 2013, but no touchdowns since. The Ravens have been waiting for the rookie version of Brown to reappear, but so far it hasn’t happened. Brown has just 13 catches for 106 yards this season, despite numerous opportunities. If Brown’s production doesn’t pick up, his future with the Ravens will clearly be in doubt.

- Timmy Jernigan, DT

The Ravens hoped Jernigan would take his play to another level after Haloti Ngata’s departure, but that hasn’t materialized yet. However, Jernigan looked more active Week 8 against the Chargers and may be in line for a strong November and December if he stays healthy. Ravens defensive tackle Brandon Williams is having a Pro Bowl caliber year. If Jernigan needs an example to follow, he simply needs to look at Williams.

- Eugene Monroe, LT

Staying healthy has been a problem the last two years for Monroe, and the Ravens have not gotten what they expected when he signed a five-year, $37.5 million deal last year. The Ravens need Monroe in the lineup and playing solid football, protecting Joe Flacco’s blind side.

- Jimmy Smith, CB

Smith may not be fully recovered from last year’s foot injury, which makes it more difficult to take chances and play aggressively. Despite being beaten for a few big plays this season, Smith remains talented enough to be one of the NFL’s top corners. That’s the Smith the Ravens need.

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Robert Griffin III: 'I completely understand' Andrew Luck's decision

Robert Griffin III: 'I completely understand' Andrew Luck's decision

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Late Saturday evening, as Ravens players and coaches ended their nights, news of Andrew Luck’s retirement reverberated throughout the league. 

At their homes, offensive coordinator Greg Roman and quarterback Robert Griffin III — both of whom knew Luck personally — called his retirement shocking.

“I had the opportunity to work with Andrew Luck at Stanford University and it was a great experience working with him,” Roman said. “Obviously, he’s a very talented football player, but he’s a very talented human being as well. I was slightly shocked.”

Roman, the tight ends and offensive tackles coach at Stanford in 2009 and 2010, had worked with Luck early in his Cardinal career. 

In 2010, Luck finished second in the Heisman Trophy voting behind Cam Newton in an offense that was designed by Roman.

“I sent him a text, and I’m sure I’ll talk to him here in the near future,” Roman said. “Andrew, I can’t speak enough for his character and the kind of person he is. He’s a special person and I wish he and his family nothing but the best.”

In the 2011 season, after Roman had left to be the San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator, Luck placed second in the Heisman voting once again. This time, he finished behind Griffin.

Luck, 29, and Griffin had been linked for the majority of their careers, starting in the Heisman race in 2011. But Griffin said the two had been linked much earlier than that.

“I’ve always been competing against Andrew silently,” Griffin said. “We both grew up in Texas, we were almost teammates at Stanford. We got to meet through the awards season in college football. At the Heisman, not everybody knows this, but they give you an option to go out and see the city or you can bring all the guys with you. Made the decision to bring everybody with us and it drew us all closer. I’ve always been rooting for him since.”

The two became the first and second overall picks — to the Indianapolis Colts and Washington Redskins — in April of 2012. Since then, the two’s careers had significant hardships. 

Griffin won Rookie of The Year, but suffered a devastating knee injury in the playoffs and never returned to his rookie year status in Washington.

He returned and started games in the 2013 and 2014 seasons, but never regained his firm grip on the position, partially due to a dislocated ankle in the second game of the 2014 season.

He left the Redskins after the 2015 season and then spent a year in Cleveland before he was out of the game altogether in 2017. It’s on that level where Griffin can relate, in some ways, to what Luck is going through.

“When I was out of football in 2017, I can’t say I was to the point where I was making the decision to retire,” Griffin began. “But, I was at the point where you’re tired of being injured, tired of being hurt and tired of going through that process. I think he called it pain, injury, rehab, and just repeating that process over and over and over. I can completely understand where he’s coming from.”

Luck had injury problems of his own in his career, of which the injuries were not insignificant. 

Added up, Luck decided it was best for him to retire. The news broke, however, during a Colts preseason game. That left time for Indianapolis fans to find out the news, and let their displeasure heard in the form of booing as Luck left the field.

“We’re looked at as superheroes and not human beings,” Griffin said. “For him to have that human element, to express it in the press conference after the game, go and talk to the media and answer questions, I thought that was really big.”

With Luck out of the game, the top two picks linked in everyone’s minds from an increasingly-infamous 2012 draft is now down to one.

Everyone in the NFL, however, in former teammates or competitors know just how special of a career that Luck had.

“For a guy to go out and do what he’s done in his six or seven years, it’s been amazing,” Ravens special teams coach Chris Horton said. “That guy, whatever he is going to do, has made the right decision for himself and that’s really what it comes down to. This game of football, we all love it. I saw his press conference, and he just talked about how much he loved football. It’s true, but we all also understand that at some point we’ve got to think about life after football a little bit.”

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'Hardest decision of my life': Colts QB Andrew Luck retires

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'Hardest decision of my life': Colts QB Andrew Luck retires

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Andrew Luck watched one last game from the sideline Saturday.

Then he said goodbye to the NFL.

The Indianapolis Colts quarterback heard boos as he walked away from the field, then walked to the podium and made the surprise decision official. The oft-injured star is retiring at age 29.

"I am going to retire," he said. "This is not an easy decision. It's the hardest decision of my life. But it is the right decision for me."

Luck said the repeated injuries, the lingering pain and continual rehab took away his love for the game.

Word first leaked about Luck's plans during the fourth quarter of Saturday's 27-17 loss to the Chicago Bears when ESPN's Adam Schefter first reported Luck felt mentally worn down and had met with team owner Jim Irsay to inform him of his decision.

Luck has most recently struggled to recover from a lower left leg injury.

Luck's former coach Chuck Pagano made his first return to Lucas Oil Stadium since he was fired as the Colts' head coach following the 2017 season. Luck did not play that season because he was recovering from surgery on his throwing shoulder.

He returned last season and led the Colts back to the playoffs for the first time in four years, winning the league's Comeback Player of the Year award.

But in March, he suffered a strained left calf, was held out of all of the team's offseason workouts and returned on a limited basis for three practices at training camp in July. Lingering pain forced him back to the sideline and the Colts later determined that he had an injury near the back of his left ankle.

Coach Frank Reich had said he hoped to have an answer about Luck's availability for the Sept. 8 season opener after the third preseason game. This might not have been the one he wanted -- and certainly didn't expect.

Jacoby Brissett now inherits the starting job.